Drink - Laura Tennant marvels at the miracle of a glass of fizz

From parties to sales shopping, few things aren't enhanced by a glass of fizz

Gosh, eating, drinking and having fun certainly do take it out of one. The school Christmas holidays are only two weeks long, but that's long enough to develop habits of shocking decadence. I've been sleeping in till 8.30 and waking from long, complicated, feverish dreams (last night's featured Hugh Grant - he had only six months to live, so, obviously, all bets were off and I was allowed to snog him). It's the champagne and Carluccio's panforte, but mainly it's the champagne.

I have learned one useful lesson, though: the way to avoid that ghastly, headachy post-Christmas-lunch feeling is to persist with the fizzy stuff. After a frenzy of house-cleaning and stocking-filling (my husband, thank God, was in charge of lunch), I had my first glass at 11.30am while applying make-up, and the rest of the big day was a smooth slalom downhill, obstacles notwithstanding. Friends and relations pushed on past the Queen, past the children's bedtime, past caring, until my husband pointed out that at 10am the next day self, hubby and kids had to be on our way to a formal Boxing Day lunch in Hampshire. Yet at 12.30 the following day, after a glass of bubbly, all was once again right in the world. I know posh claret is supposed to be the closest to divine nectar that humans can get, but personally I find it lowering, mainly because you are supposed to sip it reverently, whereas I prefer to gargle, in the knowledge that another bottle sits chilling in the fridge.

Champagne is such a wonderfully girly drink. It's the ideal prelude to sales shopping, getting married or having a baby, and works well during hair appointments, screwball comedies and drinks parties, where it doubles as an anaesthetic for put-upon feet. I know people who drink only champagne, presumably because "one doesn't drink at all unless something decent is on offer". I'm almost tempted - except that I suspect I'd drink as much champagne as I now do Chardonnay, and that would be the end of my shoe budget.

Anyway. My husband is threatening to go on the wagon for January, which means he'll lose interest in cooking, which means evenings will be comfortless affairs indeed. Good Lord, I may even have to feed myself. I don't propose to join him; I'm a mother, and self-medicate with a glass of wine at 6pm (6.30pm, if the spirit is willing). As the immortal Sugar Kane put it, I can stop whenever I want to - only I don't want to. Not that a little detoxing isn't in order at this time of year. Early to bed, early to rise, and an invigorating morning run around Greenwich Park, along with plenty of wholegrains, veg and almonds (they're a superfood, don't you know), are my recipe for well-being. But I'll still be enjoying a glass in the window after supper and before bath. A drink problem? More like a drink solution . . .

This article first appeared in the 09 January 2006 issue of the New Statesman, The death of freedom